Monday, October 25, 2010

Public Mobilization Doesn't Have to be Boring

Last semester I worked for an environmental startup based in Madison and we did a public mobilization campaign via social media for Earth Day. To commemorate the 40th annual Earth Day and raise awareness for renewable energy, we launched an Earth Day scavenger hunt. Special stickers were placed around busy areas on UW-Madison’s campus, and students were encouraged to find a sticker, snap a picture and upload it to the Powered Green Facebook Page. The participants were then automatically entered into daily drawings for a chance to win sustainable products from participating sponsors. We used Facebook, Twitter and a page on our website to publicize the event and drive traffic to the Facebook page. Our tweets and status updates included event updates, prize announcements and hints about sticker placements.

Hundreds of pictures and comments appeared on Powered Green’s Facebook page, the story was picked up by several popular green blogs, and we got tons of traffic to our website and Facebook fan page. I think it was successful because the event provided people with an easy way to get involved in the Earth Day celebration, peoples’ Facebook friends could see their environmental efforts, the social media platforms were popular among our target, and there were prize incentives.

A weekend or so after Earth Day, my roommates and I were having a Mifflin pre-game party and a friend of a friend noticed my (Powered Green branded) water bottle sitting by the sink. After he found out it was my water bottle, he came up to me and told me how great he thought the event was and he had fun searching for stickers on his way to class. I was so excited he recognized our efforts that I did what anyone in my position would have done. I poured him a shot and we threw one back to going green.


  1. I think that was such an awesome idea. Its the type of thing where you see something, wonder what it is and then go online to find out. It catches people's eyes. I wasn't here last spring but I'm totally the type of person who'd notice something like that sticker and wonder.

    However, I think it's also a very difficult thing. You should be proud that you were able to think of a smart enough concept that would catch on. I think often times, things like that would go unnoticed with so much other clutter.

  2. I really love this campaign idea. It is incredibly hard to garner interest and get people involved in an issue especially in an age where it seems less and less people are active, engaged and participate in movements for change. One thing I've come to notice in my own work on trying to get people interested and involved, and which I noticed with this campaign as well, is the need to have some sort of incentive. I definitely think there were people who were excited about Earth Day and wanted to contribute to a better environment, but many probably saw the chance for some swag and hopped on board. One thing that I think is important for groups to figure out is how to get people interested without the extra incentive. However, I also think this campaign found the way to do this by providing competition - people wanted to find stickers and get the glory on the Facebook page.

  3. This is definitely an interesting idea. I like the viral-esque aspect of it, but these campaigns are really hard to sustain. Props to you for garnering some impressive involvement!! However, for our class campaigns, I think an idea like this would be really difficult to activate. If you can do it, it can be extremely successful to increase web site traffic and stimulate interest in the topic. A social project like your scavenger hunt can go either way- it can be extremely successful, or it can be a complete time-suck that ends up not panning out. I think in order to succeed, the campaign planners need to focus the "why/how" factor- why would someone see our sticker and be motivated to go to our website? how do we get them there? I feel like so many campaigns are too caught up in how awesome it would be if the idea works, and end up disappointed because they didn't research it enough or advertise it enough or stimulate enough interest in the campaign. But if it works, it can be really successful.

  4. I really like how your campaign used social media with real-world applications. While social media is incredibly useful and important, its characteristics and effects are often confined to the digital world. By incorporating stickers around campus into your campaign, you were able to create connections to the real world and build a grassroots organization that interacted both digitally and in reality.